Neurobiology of Autism Spectrum Disorder

Increasing evidence suggests that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) originates from neurodevelopmental abnormalities, highlighting a need for new research strategies that combine neuroimaging, genetics, and behavioral assessment. Our research on the development of new methodologies that blend information from neuroimaging and behavioral assessments provides a perfect example of this promising research direction. We develop novel techniques to characterize heterogeneous neurobiological underpinnings of ASD.

(a) Individuals with ASD were grouped into three subgroups based on the developmental deviation index (DDI). Advanced group had higher brain age compared to chronological age (DDI >= 1). Delayed group had lower brain age compared to chronological age (DDI <= -1). Balanced group had similar brain age and chronological age ( -0.2 < DDI < 0.2). (b) ASD severity values for the three groups. (c) The effect size of group difference between Advanced and Delayed groups. The effect size is reported as common-language effect size (i.e., probability of having higher severity in the Delayed group), which is an appropriate choice for ordinal severity values. The effect size was calculated for varying number of people in each group (adjusting DDI threshold accordingly) to demonstrate the robustness of group difference to the DDI threshold. Regardless of the sample sizes, the inter-group difference was always significant (p < 0.05).
Regions with significant difference of FA values between typically developing children (TDC) and ASD groups, color coded by p-value. Each column shows a comparison between a specific subgroup of ASD whose severity values are shown in parentheses as a range and a fixed group of TDCs.

Source Codes
PUNCH: Population Characterization of Heterogeneity

Tunç B, Yankowitz L D, Parker D, Alappatt J A, Pandey J, Schultz R T, Verma R, Deviation from normative brain development is associated with symptom severity in autism spectrum disorder, Molecular autism, 10:46, , 2019
Tunç B, Ghanbari Y, Smith A R, Pandey J, Browne A, Schultz R T, Verma R, PUNCH: Population Characterization of Heterogeneity, NeuroImage, vol:98, 50-60, 2014
Tunç B, Shankar V, Parker D, Schultz R T, Verma R, Towards a Quantified Network Portrait of a Population, Information Processing in Medical Imaging (IPMI), vol:24, 650-61, 2015